What is meant by tax? What are the major categories of taxes?« Back to Questions List


A tax (from the Latin taxo; "rate") is a financial charge or other levy imposed upon a taxpayer (an individual or legal entity) by a state or administrative division. Failure to pay tax is punishable by law.Tax is not a voluntary payment or donation.It is a contribution imposed by government, state or administrative division to enable them to meet the expenses.

Taxes consist of direct and indirect taxes.

The term direct tax generally means a tax paid directly to the government by the persons on whom it is imposed. Tax on income and tax on business profit are examples of Direct Tax.Indirect tax is a tax imposed upon a transaction. Sales Tax and Value Added Tax (VAT) are examples of indirect taxes. Sales tax or a value added tax are imposed only if and when a taxable transaction occurs.

Taxes in India are levied by the Central Government and the state governments. Some minor taxes are also levied by the local authorities such the Municipality.

Taxes on Income and Duties of customs including export duties are two major sources of income for Central Government.
Income Tax Department functions under the Department of Revenue in Ministry of Finance. It is responsible for administering following direct taxation acts passed by Parliament of India.

Income Tax Act -The major tax enactment in India is the Income Tax Act of 1961 passed by the Parliament, which imposes a tax on income of individuals and corporations.

Wealth Tax Act-The Wealth Tax Act, 1957 governs the taxation process associated with the Net Wealth that an Individual, a Hindu Undivided Family (HUF), or a Company possesses on the Valuation Date.

Gift Tax Act-The Gift Tax Act came into force on 1 April 1958 and has ceased to apply on gifts made on or after 1 October 1998.The Act was brought into force to impose tax on the act of giving or receiving gifts under certain circumstances as specified by the Act.

Customs is an authority or agency in a country responsible for collecting and safeguarding customs duties and for controlling the flow of goods including animals, transports, personal effects and hazardous items in and out of a country.

In India, Land revenue,Taxes on lands and buildings,Stamp duty etc are decided by respective state Governments.

A sales tax is a tax paid to a governing body for the sales of certain goods and services. Usually laws allow (or require) the seller to collect funds for the tax from the consumer at the point of purchase.

A value added tax (VAT) is a form of consumption tax. For the buyer, it is a tax on the purchase price. For the seller, it is a tax only on the value added to a product, material, or service, by this stage of its manufacture or distribution. The manufacturer remits to the government the difference between these two amounts, and retains the rest for themselves to offset the taxes they had previously paid on the inputs.

Goods and Service Tax (GST) and India

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